Being shy is not the same as being introverted. An introvert will join in with conversations when they want (need) to; a shy person tends to avoid doing so.
The danger (for an introvert) is that being introverted can lead to the behaviour of shyness. If that’s happening, or you already need to fight shyness, here’s 4 tips to help.
Shyness is a learned behaviour, or a habit, so one of the best ways to overcome shyness is to make it a habit of speaking to everyone.
Tip 1 – Speak to more people, more often
Yes it’s a catch 22, but one of the best ways to change the learned behaviour is to get involved in more conversations, which creates more confidence to join in with more conversations.
Start small, very small. Maybe just developing the habit of saying “hello” or “good morning” to one person every day. Don’t limit yourself to speaking to people you know, just say “hi”. If you’re at a networking meeting (hell for shy people), go say hello to one of the others that are standing on their own – they are probably also shy and will love you for it.
Build on it, start speaking to two people every day, then increase the length of those conversations.
Most people you start a conversation with are friendly; that will help realise it’s not so scary to start talking.
Tip 2 – Learn more.
Doing more research can help make conversations much easier and the confidence problems seem much smaller.
It will be easier to talk about a subject that you know a lot about, especially when you know a lot more than the others you’re talking to. Then you’ll be helping them and they’ll start talking to you (asking you questions).
Another simple piece of learning may be to simply develop the habit of scanning the news each day for two or three key pieces of information that often get discussed in groups:
- Sports results. Knowing something can keep you in the conversation long enough to change it to something you’d rather talk about.
- Recent business news headlines, and your view on them.
- Other news headlines
Tip 3 – Keep going
Practice and more practice make it easier. There may be some difficult conversations that don’t go the way you want, but more will go the way you want.
Tip 4 – Use your super listening skills
By listening carefully to the conversation (and most introverts are very good at that), you’ll realise the gaps that some people don’t know about, or you’ll be able to ask the question that everybody is avoiding. The more you listen the more you’ll realise that there are always questions people don’t ask and are desperate for somebody else to ask. In that way you don’t have to say a lot, but it will really count, and the group will be very pleased you did.
What tips do you have to get over shyness?
I would really appreciate three minutes of your time to understand your views of extroversion, introversion and how (if?) they affect performance in business.